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  International ISMN Agency 


What Is an ISMN?



The International Standard Music Number (ISMN) is a unique number for the identification of all notated music publications from all over the world, whether available for sale, hire or gratis--whether a part, a score, or an element in a multi-media kit.

The ISMN is designed to rationalize the processing and handling of notated music and the respective bibliographical data for publishing houses, the music trade and libraries.

  • As of 1 January 2008 the ISMN consists of 13 digits starting with 979-0
  • Existing 10-digit ISMNs are prefixed by 979-
  • The leading M- of the 10-digit ISMNs will be replaced by 0- (zero)
  • The resulting 13-digit number will be identical with the EAN-13 number that is currently encoded in the bar code

ISO Standard 10957 gives the basic rules of the ISMN system.

The thirteen-digit number allows a billion items each to carry a different number.


See also our News section, November 2007.



Please, note:

Before January 1, 2008 the ISMN consisted of four elements comprising ten digits,

for example, M-2306-7118-7

Mthe prefix M which distinguished the ISMN from other standard numbers;
2306a publisher ID which identifies a certain music publisher;
7118an item ID which identifies a certain item of notated music; and
7a check digit which validates the number mathematically.


The old ten-digit as well as the new thirteen-digit ISMN can be converted into a bookland code and printed with a scanner raster:


Example of a barcode with 13-digit ISMN:




Example of an old barcode with 10-digit ISMN







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